“For me, I didn’t play as well as I hoped to start the year,” said Schneider, who played a handful of games for HC Ambri-Piotta of the Swiss League until the NHL lockout was resolved. “But I feel I’m getting better and towards the place I want to be. I felt great in the second half of the regular season, and they rewarded me by playing me a lot down the stretch.”
Schneider had a front row seat to Vancouver’s run to the Stanley Cup final two years ago against the Bruins, even relieving Luongo in Games 4 and 6 in Boston while also starting his team’s first round Game 6 matchup against the Chicago Blackhawks. But it’s one thing to go through a long playoff run ... and it’s another thing to actually do it.
“I learned a lot from seeing what goes into making it that far,” said the big redhead. “I think our team as a group has learned and matured, too; we went to the final two years ago, then felt we could have gone deep last year but lost (in the first round).
“I’m not sure what people outside the (locker) room think about us, but frankly we don’t care. We know when we’re healthy and playing well, we can beat anyone in this league.”
Well aware of the Sharks and their slew of offensive talent, Schneider said it’s important to know their tendencies, penchant for creativity and the fact that, like the Canucks, they’d like to erase years of playoff disappointments this spring. But he’s more concerned about himself and his teammates and what they’re capable of doing.
“We want to use our speed, get the puck up ice and create scoring chances, and with our top three centers (Henrik Sedin, Ryan Kesler and Derek Roy), I think we match up with anybody up the middle,” said Schneider. “Strength in the playoffs is built from the middle out, so we want to dictate the pace and put pressure on other teams.
“For me, I just want to play the best that I can and hopefully help get us to where we want to be.”